Over the last few weeks, there has not been a single story-line that has dominated the domestic political news. But there have been some notable events that involved a take-away, a take-down, or both. Consider what follows.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (HRC) testimony

Finally, over a year after she requested it, HRC spent 11-hours in front of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Regardless of your own judgment of her demeanor and the contents of her numerous responses, there is this take-away:  The committee’s Republican members utterly failed in their efforts to rattle her, land a “knock-out” punch, or place in the witness’ hand, a proverbial “smoking gun” that would have shown her to have been negligent or criminally accountable for the deaths of four Americans in our consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

In sharp contrast, the committee Democrats managed several take-downs. Time after time, they followed up on the questioning of committee Republicans by citing evidence collected during one or more of seven previous hearings that effectively rebutted the preceding line of GOP interrogation.

Boehner leaves/Ryan ascends

Having resigned his House seat and the Speakership, John Boehner nonetheless carried off some meaningful business before his exit. Specifically, working secretly with a select group of top House and Senate members from both parties, a two-year budget deal was crafted, then put to a vote in both chambers, and passed. By proceeding in this way, the departing Speaker pulled off a take-down that preemptively spiked any attempt by the far-right Freedom Caucus (FC)to use the need to raise the debt ceiling (1) as leverage to exact further cuts in spending (2).

Given the foregoing, there is also this take-away:  Boehner’s gambit will surely make managing the House much easier for his successor, Paul Ryan (R – WIS). That is, the new Speaker will have a two-year respite from having to deal with the aforementioned FC whose members have made it their staple to obstruct legislative business unless their demands for concessions are met.

GOP candidates vs. the media

In the very recent third Republican debate, Senator Ted Cruz (R – TX) drew a hearty audience response with his take-down of the moderators and the mainstream media more generally. The former were cast as mean-spirited and biased while posing questions that avoided substantive issues.

While the nature of some moderator questions were indeed “mean-spirited” (3),  the claim of bias against the mainstream media is far less compelling. All one has to do is conduct a review of tv and newspaper coverage of HRC during the last 18 months during which she has faced a withering public barrage of innuendos, false or tenuous claims and distortions of her role in the tragedy in Benghazi. In addition, during the first Democratic debate, she was grilled about the e-mails that were sent and received by her now-notorious private server.

The polls and GOP candidates

The animus directed at the GOP establishment by Republican poll respondents has held rock solid for the past three months. The most recent survey showed that Trump and Carson were tied at the top with 26% of potential conservative voters favoring one or the other of them. The take-away here is clear; i.e. unless a candidate surfaces to bridge the gap between the pro- and anti-establishment factions within the GOP, the party will go to their convention without a clear candidate who stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field. This could easily lead to a messy, brokered selection process wherein every candidate with even a few delegates committed to him or her will demand a place on the ticket or some say in the party’s platform (4).

Epilog

As in physics, in politics, every action has a reaction. So, in the days and months ahead, watch to see how the parties involved in the take-aways and take-downs cited above respond. They will be the subjects of tomorrow’s headlines, opening tv news segments and topics for your blogger to address.

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  1. It is terribly important for everyone to understand that all references anywhere, to raising the debt ceiling, are related to the USA paying for bills it has already incurred. A vote to raise the debt ceiling should not be mistaken as a vote to engage in new spending.
  2. The defunding of Planned Parenthood had publicly been targeted by the Freedom Caucus.
  3.  One must wonder if Senator Cruz would have included Fox News as a contributor to “mean spiritedness”. That cable channel certainly qualifies.
  4. Mike Huckabee might be a “player” in that brokering process. He is bound to win at least a few delegates coming out of the Iowa (primary) caucus. He could use the release of those to a stronger candidate in exchange for insertion into the party platform of a demand for a law against gay marriage.

 

 

 

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